Xavier Rudd is one talented and creative musician that is making big waves with his new style of music. The infectious woops and hums that come from the deep base of his didgeridoo are stunning and moving, ancient and totally new. Carried by the same breath is his powerful voice that cascades and cries out through the lyrical ranges of his thoughts and emotions. Unless his hands are busy pelting down djembe rhythms, theyíre engaged in strumming and picking intricate and infectious acoustic rhythm scales with his guitar. With a free foot he adds a solid pounding where it fits. Heís a one-man show that moves his audience to their feet in a tribal disco tech swell of strong grooving spirit. Lucky for us heíll be back to play his fourth show in a year at the Queens Hotel on Oct. 8th. I interviewed him over the phone last week. I felt awkward as a rookie journalist and kind of goofy as a fan in awe of him. But like his music, his words had a calming and uplifting quality that made me get over it.
Before I begin with a distillation of our conversation, I want to acknowledge the circumstances that have brought Xavierís music to Vancouver Island. In his homeland of Australia, Xavier met a traveling west coast woman and fell in love. So it is because of love that he comes here to share the commitment and passion of his music, and I think that is pretty darn sweet!
SB: Xavier, hi. Itís Sue. How are you?
XR: Good, really good. Iím in Nelson. I can see the mountains through the window right now. Itís beautiful here.
SB: Where do you live when youíre not on the road?
XR: Torquay, about two hours from Melbourne on the coast.
SB: Do you surf there?
XR: Yeah, when Iím home I surf all the time Ö I love it. Next to music itís whatís I do, for myself, my release.
SB: What do you ride?
XR: A six ft. fish.
SB: Have you tried surfing off our west coast?
XR: No, no I havenít yet. I never bring my board with me. Itís hard you know, when Iím touring, I miss surfing.
SB: How long have you been playing music for, and was there a distinctive moment in your life when you decided to pursue it as a career?
XR: It came to me when I was ten; it started with the vacuum cleaner hose. Iíve always been drawn to music, but more so it came to me, the music found me.
SB: Did you study how to play the didgeridoo with aboriginals in Australia?
XR: No. I was always fascinated with it. I donít play it in a traditional sense, but I get a good reaction from Indigenous peoples when they come to the show. They are fascinated to hear how I play it. They are very peaceful and positive about it, in general.
SB: Your song BC People is a dedication to us. Could you explain why you were inspired to write that song?
XR: Iíve been moved by the humbleness, the earthiness of people here. I have had such a great welcome, so much warmth and open arms extended to me. Iíve been touched by that, by BC. Itís changed a lot of my outlooks and helped me to find a lot of peace.
SB: I was in Vancouver this summer at the Ben Harper and Jack Johnson concert and, I think that you would have fit in up there and added even more to the show. Is there anyone that you would love to have the opportunity to play with? Anyone you dream about having that chance with?
XR: No, not really. I have a lot of respect for a lot of musicians, but I donít long to be with anyone in particular. Itís like whatís meant to be will be. Sure, I played with Jack before and it was great, but even like playing a show at the Queens in Nanaimo, itís just as great with me to be with the people there, to look out and see the smiles, feel the connections.
SB: You have a song, Things Meant to Be. Is that a part of your life philosophy?
XR: Yeah, sure. I think itís best to find peace in our lives. If I am in touch with myself, then thatís how whatís meant to be will be. Itís not good to have stress in the riddles.
SB: Does your philosophy include a creator? Is there something greater you feel than yourself that makes you so humble?
XR: No, not really. Not at this point in my life. I trust in my heart and the hearts of those around me. Iím big on that.
SB: Do you think that music is healing?
XR: Yeah, definitely. Smiles. The smiles I see on the audienceís faces. Thatís healing.
SB: Iím so touched by the song, Little Chief that you wrote for your son. Honestly itís one of the most beautiful songs Iíve ever heard, especially as a parent.
XR: Thanks Sue, really, I appreciate that.
SB: Something I really like about your lyrics is how you cover a wide range of topics. How does writing a song usually work for you?
XR: Iíve never tried to write a song. Iíve never tried, I just wait. Itís an emotional process. Itís never a chore.
SB: Is there anything about life as a working musician that has surprised you?
XR: Just that itís really hard work, being on the road. It takes a lot of energy to move around so much. But I love it. The hard work is outweighed by the joy of it.
SB: So when is the next album going to be finished?
XR: Soon. I recorded it at home, but itís being mixed in Vancouver right now.
SB: Xavier, you can totally hold the show, but do you ever think of maybe touring with some other musicians, or having a band? You work so hard up there!
XR: Iíve played with various musicians, and maybe in a year or two Iíll look at taking some on the road with me. Right now, up there by myself feels right. Itís very personal in a lot of ways. Itís who I am, thatís what Iím sharing. I love playing with other people though.
SB: How about a djembe drummer?
XR: Yeah, thatís what it would have to be.
SB: Thanks Xavier. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
XR: Thank you. Peace.
Susan is a student at Malaspina University